|skud (skud) wrote,|
@ 2011-08-14 11:35 pm UTC
MOTU Ultralite Mk3 Hybrid Audio Interface -- 10 inputs, firewire and USB, blah blah blah read the website. Non-technical explanation: it's a doodad that lets you record multiple tracks at once into your laptop.
TASCAM DR-07MKII Portable Digital Recorder -- about the size of a mid 1990s cellphone (though lighter), records pretty decent sound to MicroSD card, mini USB jack blah blah.
And a couple of basic mics: Shure SM-58, Beta-58, and SM-57. (The former two are vocal mics, the latter an instrument mic suitable for acoustic guitar, which I play (badly).)
So basically I figure those are a good start for messing around at home and/or out and about.
Anyway, I didn't get to play with any of it much before going away to Madison for a week, but now I'm home I want to make a point of getting comfortable with it all. So to that end I'm going to try and record *something* every day, and take notes here. I'm mostly tracking it for my own benefit, and it's all going to be pretty basic for a while, but if anyone's interested in my learning process then please feel free to follow along.
2011-08-13: simple two-track recording with the MOTU Ultralite Mk3
So my goal was to get the MOTU Ultralite (hereafter: Ultralite) unpacked and plugged in and basically just figure out how it worked.
The device itself is a little larger than a Mac Mini in terms of footprint. It has Firewire 400 and USB 2.0 interfaces, and can power itself off the Firewire or you can use an external AC power adapter with the USB. Since my laptop doesn't have a Firewire 400 port (what port is that Firewire I have? 800? something else? should look that up) I went with the USB+AC for now.
Plugged it in and turned it on. Saw some blinkenlights. Hurrah!
Plugged in an SM58 with an XLR cable to the port labelled "MIC/INSTR IN 1" on the front panel. Opened OSX sound settings to see whether it showed up as a device and whether I could get anything out of it. I couldn't. That's the point where I actually decided to crack the manual.
Pretty soon I realised that I did in fact have to install some of the MOTU software. So I did that, and opened the MOTU Audio Setup tool, and pretty quickly actually got the sound coming through to OSX. Hurrah. I also plugged in a pair of headphones to the Ultralite's phones jack and tried to set them up as monitor headphones, but I couldn't get anything out of them for ages.
Eventually I opened MOTU's "Cuemix FX" software that came with the Ultralite, and which gives you a UI for all the stuff on the device. After some poking around I realised that the input channels were muted, so once I fixed that, I could hear myself through the headphones.
What I really wanted to do was a simple multi-track recording with Garageband. My original plan was to do acoustic guitar and vox, but I couldn't find another XLR cable anywhere (wtf, I knew I had one somewhere... but my living room is a huge mess of half-packed stuff at present). In the end I shrugged and pulled out the electric guitar and plugged it in via its instrument cable to "MIC/INSTR IN 2" on the back of the device.
The Ultralite has pre-amps for those two inputs, so I fiddled the "trim" knobs on the front so that the levels were appropriate -- I wanted the meters to be fairly high but not peaking.
In Garageband, it took me a bit of fiddling to figure out how to do multi-track recording, but it's a per-project option that you can get to from the menus (I think I found it via help). Then for each track, you have to press a little red record button on that track's settings, and then when you press the big red record button on the bottom panel of the screen, all the tracks you've selected will record. Oh, and for each track... when I went to "New Track" I selected the traditional mic'd instrument option, and then clicked on the arrow for settings or whatever it is, to drop out an options panel, and selected which channel from the Ultralite would relate to each track.
So I recorded a basic song with me singing and playing and it was, indeed, a recording! ACHIEVEMENT UNLOCKED. It sounded pretty crappy but my goal wasn't to have a *good* recording, just to figure out the process for getting multiple tracks into Garageband.
2001-08-14: recording acoustic guitar
Nothing very challenging because I have lots of other stuff going on today and didn't want to make a big production of it, but I recorded about a minute of acoustic guitar using an SM-57, the Ultralite, and Garageband. Again, it pretty much sounded like crap, but it was a recording and I had done something new!
I'm not a good guitarist by any means, but one thing I've learned is that it makes a difference if I just pick the instrument up every day and play something, anything. So that's what I'm trying to do with recording: just get in the habit of breaking out the recording gear every day and doing something with it, even if it's just messing around.